Stuffing season is upon us. It may not be a low-calorie or spa-friendly food, but the days are shortening and mercury continues to drop…perfect conditions for my mind wanting something with a soft, yielding texture. As for my body, it wants warmth and only warmth. Chef Bill and I have a habit of stocking bags of seafood in our freezer when they’re on sale, and an exceptionally cold night last week got us thinking. Why leave it for just Thanksgiving? And furthermore, why confine ourselves to poultry-based stuffing? Seems to me stuffing has all the earmarkings of versatility, so off we went on another cooking adventure.
I won’t pretend this one’s not time-consuming, but chances are you’re spending inordinate amounts of time indoors = now’s the perfect time for a few kitchen projects!
A word of caution: seafood such as shrimp and scallops can overcook in an instant and be thereby cursed with a rubbery texture. Be gentle with your use of heat. Once baked, seafood stuffing should be used within a few days. But it also freezes well. The dense texture of gluten-free bread makes this extra-substantial. I think you’ll agree, it’s pretty rockin! Enjoy….
1 loaf of high-quality, dense gluten-free bread
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
½ head celery, finely diced in a food processor
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh chopped sage or thyme (may use dried; may use both if you like a lot of flavor)
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 pints of seafood stock
¾ pound shrimp
½ pound scallops
½ pound crab meat
Remove bread from bag, cut into small squares and and lay on cookie sheets. Let sit in open air overnight or until stale. Or: place bread on cookie sheets in a 250-degree oven and bake for 20 minutes or until fairly crisp. Place in large mixing bowl when crisp or stale.
While bread is baking, lightly sauté onions and celery in a large skillet in a stick of butter over medium heat until glassine – do not brown. Turn heat off and set aside.
In a separate pan, sauté all seafood in a stick of butter over medium heat, until just cooked, approximately four minutes. Do not overcook, or consistency will be tough. Remove from heat and set aside. Warm seafood stock over medium heat in a saucepan on the stove.
Beat the eggs vigorously or blend in food processor or blender. Add egg mixture to the gluten-free bread cubes, reserving two tablespoons of beaten egg mixture. Add herbs and pepper and gently fold together with spatula. Prior to adding stock, be sure it is warm and not hot, to avoid cooking eggs. Stir stock into bread mixture, one ladle at a time, until bread becomes soft, but not mushy.
Chop seafood (which should be cooled off by now) into bite-sized pieces. Add seafood and vegetable to bread cubes and fold thoroughly. Add more stock if needed. Once mixed thoroughly, spray olive oil into a 3-quart casserole dish and spread. Brush top of stuffing with remaining egg mixture. Bake covered at 325°F for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes, or until top is lightly golden.
Optional: for extra flavor, you can also add 1 gluten-free corn muffin, crumbled, to the mixture.
Stacey Morris is a Loudonville-based cookbook author, health coach, and DDPYOGA instructor. Her website is www.staceymorris.com.